10 Teacher: Remember the saying,
Dead flies can spoil a good perfume.
In the same way, all the wisdom and honor in the world cannot outweigh a moment’s folly.
2 Wise people move to the right where they honor the goodness of God’s creation,
while fools move to the left and choose to ignore it.
Verse two states that “wise people move to the right . . . while fools move to the left.” The contrast between “right” and “left” reflects the ancient Near Eastern ideas of “clean” and “unclean.” The right hand was considered the clean hand and was a symbol for prosperity, while the left hand was considered the unclean hand and a symbol for disaster. The clean hand was used for eating, for acts of hospitality, and for greeting others. The unclean hand was used for personal hygiene. Thus, in this metaphor the right is equated with God’s goodness, while the left is equated with ignorance of God’s goodness.
3 Teacher: Fools are easily spotted when they walk down the street:
their lack of sense is obvious to everyone.
4 If someone in charge becomes angry at you, don’t leave your post;
a calm reply puts great offenses to rest.
5 I have seen another restless evil in this world, the kind of error that arises from those in power: 6 fools and their folly are promoted to positions of authority, while the rich and talented are assigned menial tasks. 7 I have seen slaves riding on horseback like royalty and princes walking on the ground like slaves.
8 If you dig a pit, you may fall into it.
If you tear down an old wall, a snake may come out and bite you.
9 Whoever quarries stones may be crushed by them,
and whoever splits wood may be hurt by flying debris.
10 If a tool is dull and no one sharpens its edge, the work will be harder;
the advantage of wisdom is this: it brings success.
11 If a snake bites before it is charmed,
there is no advantage in being a snake charmer.
12 The words of the wise bring them favor,
but those of the foolish endanger them.
13 The first words out of a fool’s mouth are folly;
the last words he utters are evil madness.
14 The fool babbles on and on, not knowing when to stop.
Though no one knows what will happen next, he may think he knows.
Who can tell what the future holds?
15 The fools’ work wears them out;
they’re so weary they can’t find their way to the city.
16 Woe to the land whose king is a child
and whose princes start their feast in the morning.
17 Blessed is the land whose king is of noble heritage
and whose princes know when to feast,
Who discipline themselves with strength and avoid drunkenness.
18 The roof sags over the head of lazybones;
the house leaks because of idle hands.
19 Feasts are happy occasions;
wine brings joy to life;
money is the answer for everything.
20 Don’t curse the king in your thoughts
or demean the rich even in private.
If you do, a little bird or other winged creature overhead might overhear
and wing your words and report what you said to those in power.